Tucked away in the Muttontown Plaza in Syosset is , the Southern-style restaurant that has become famous around the tristate area for authentic Louisiana and Cajun-style food.
Since they opened their doors Memorial Day weekend, Mara's has gained a new crowd of Long Island fans while maintaining their hardcore followers who travel from as far as Philadelphia to sample their menu.
"It's all about keeping the culture alive," said owner and restaurant namesake, Mara Levi. "I think Southern food is the only truly authentic American food we have left."
What began as everyday meals in Mara's kitchen blossomed into a successful family business. Initially planned as a second location to complement their Union Square restaurant, Mara's Homemade in Syosset is now their only existing location.
Walking into Mara's Homemade is a stroll down the sidewalk of Bourbon Street in the middle of Mardi Gras (minus the beads). Wall to wall mirrors dressed as windows reflect the royal purple, emerald and golden walls, making the indoor restaurant feel like an outdoor New Orleans cafe.
Each seashell or Carnival mask hanging on the wall has a story, which Mara gladly recounts in detail. The only thing more festive than the atmosphere is the menu, which features items ranging from the safe to the scaly.
" is probably the most intimidating thing we have on the menu," said Chana, Mara's daughter.
"My favorite is the black peppered barbecue shrimp," said Chana, who is partially responsible for Mara's coming to New York. Her family followed her when she went to college in New York.
Mara's Homemade now offers an autumn menu, including homemade apple cider and Louisiana pecan ale.
"Crawfish season starts around Thanksgiving, so from then until Father's Day, we'll be flying them in and serving them by the pound...in buckets," Chana said.